2016-05-05 / Life in Leelanau

Building for Art

New art studio a ‘dream come true’ for Northport artists
By Patti Brandt
Of The Enterprise staff


BILL COLLINS stands in front of the future art center he is putting up in Northport. The work is being done by Hallmark Construction, whose workers — Danny Lehberger and Sam Pence — were putting in the footings last week. BILL COLLINS stands in front of the future art center he is putting up in Northport. The work is being done by Hallmark Construction, whose workers — Danny Lehberger and Sam Pence — were putting in the footings last week. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the Old Art Building in Leland should be blushing.

Footings were being poured last week for a new art studio in Northport whose purpose is to provide a space for art classes, exhibits and events, as well as providing a studio for local artists to paint, sketch, craft and otherwise express their creative bent.

The 3,000-square-foot art studio may also provide a space for yoga, dance or exercise classes, said Bill Collins, who with his wife Nina is footing the bill for the space.

Collins said the studio, being added to the back of an office building on Mill and Third streets, is being modeled after the Old Art Building — maybe not in looks, but in its purpose.

“What we are trying to do is provide all the artists in Northport with the same type of venue they have in Leland in the Old Art Building,” Collins said.

Northport has a very active group of artists, the Northport Arts Association, that has more than 80 members.

Nina is one of those artists. A painter who has also created maps of Northport, Nina said she has taken classes in Leland and has gone to paint during open studio time there. She wants to duplicate that experience in the Northport studio.

“It’s just a wonderful thing for meeting friends,” Nina said. “There are no telephones ringing and you can do whatever you like.”

She said regular open studio times will be held at different times than those in Leland.

“We’re just hoping this works well for everybody,” Nina said.

The group of artists used to meet in a room in the back of Red Mullein, a Northport gallery and vintage shop owned by Claire Gengarelli, but the room had no insulation and was too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer, Nina said.

She thinks the new place will be well-received and will be a central location where everyone can go — including artists from other communities.

“We had a big group and no place to go,” she said.

Collins, who built and then donated the Northport Creek Golf Course to Northport Village, purchased the office building this winter and is adding the studio to the back of the building.

The building also leases out space for a medical clinic run by Dr. Michael Ziter and will lease to the Leelanau Township Community Foundation, which currently has offices at Northport School.

The Collins’ came up with the idea last year when a group of artists were trying to purchase the Pier Group building on Rose Street, a 6,000-square-foot structure that was last occupied in the 1980s.

Collins said the building just wasn’t going to work so he and Nina purchased the Mill Street building.

Collins said they would like to have the new addition open by early fall, possibly in time for the Leelanau Uncaged festival that takes place near the end of September.

The work is being done by Hallmark Construction.

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thank you, bill and nina

thank you, bill and nina